COVID-19: Investigation launched into blanket DNRs

The Care Quality Commission has launched an investigation into the use of ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ (DNR) forms, following concerns that some care homes still have blanket orders in place for residents.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute found that during the national lockdown, 10 per cent of care home staff changed DNR orders without consulting family members, nursing staff or the residents themselves.

Health Minister Lord Bethell has now instructed the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to verify whether the “unacceptable” practice is still taking place. The review is expected to cover care homes, primary care and hospitals.


Dr Rosie Benneyworth, Chief Inspector of Primary Medical Services and Integrated Care at the CQC, said: “We welcome this commission from Department of Health and Social Care and are taking it forward at pace. This builds on the concerns we reported earlier in the year and we are pleased that they are being given closer attention.”

She reiterated that it is “unacceptable” for DNRs to be applied to blanket groups of people, saying the review will ensure “mistakes are not repeated”.

The CQC issued a joint statement with three other organisations in April, stressing the need for decisions to be made “on an individual basis according to need”.

The review’s initial findings are expected to be released later this year, with a final report due in early 2021.


Earlier this year, the Government reported that it would release new guidance on DNRs after the Court of Appeal established that there is a legal duty for hospitals to consult with and inform patients if they are placing a DNR on their records.

Two documents are expected to be published on the NHS website, one for doctors, and the other for patients and relatives.

A Government spokesman said: “The Government has taken consistent action on a number of fronts to prevent this from happening and NHS England is currently creating patient-facing guidelines on how to challenge a DNR and access support.”

Also see:

Elderly person with Zimmer frame

NHS asked some care homes to place DNR orders on all patients during pandemic

Christian care charity: ‘Pray that the elderly will be valued’

COVID-19: NHS warns that blanket DNRs should not be issued to vulnerable

Related Resources